Surahs Recited on Friday and Their Themes: Ibn al-Qayyim

The great scholar Ibn al-Qayyim included a long section listing the merits of Friday in his wonderful and expansive biography of the Prophet. What follows is one of those points which discusses how the surahs that the Prophet recited on Fridays as well as the sermons that he gave fit with that day and its themes:

 الثالثة والثلاثون : إنه يوم اجتماع الناس وتذكيرهم بالمبدأ والمعاد ، وقد شرع الله سبحانه وتعالى لكل أمة في الأسبوع يوما يتفرغون فيه للعبادة ويجتمعون فيه لتذكر المبدأ والمعاد ، والثواب والعقاب ، ويتذكرون به اجتماعهم يوم الجمع الأكبر قياما بين يدي رب العالمين ، وكان أحق الأيام بهذا الغرض المطلوب اليوم الذي يجمع الله فيه الخلائق ، وذلك يوم الجمعة ، فادخره الله لهذه الأمة لفضلها وشرفها ، فشرع اجتماعهم في هذا اليوم لطاعته ، وقدر اجتماعهم فيه مع الأمم لنيل كرامته ، فهو يوم الاجتماع شرعا في الدنيا ، وقدرا في الآخرة ، وفي مقدار انتصافه وقت الخطبة والصلاة يكون أهل الجنة في منازلهم ، وأهل النار في منازلهم ، كما ثبت عن ابن مسعود من غير وجه أنه قال : ( لا ينتصف النهار يوم القيامة حتى يقيل أهل الجنة في منازلهم وأهل النار في منازلهم وقرأ : ( أصحاب الجنة يومئذ خير مستقرا وأحسن مقيلا ) ) [ الفرقان : 24 ] وقرأ : ( ثم إن مقيلهم لإلى الجحيم ) ، وكذلك هي في قراءته . ـ

Point 33: That Friday is the day on which the people come together and are reminded of their origins and their ultimate return to Allah. Allah had legislated a day of the week for each ummah to dedicate to worship and to gather together to remember their origins, their ultimate return to Allah, and the reward and punishment. Through this, they are reminded of their gathering together on the greatest day of gathering together when they will be standing in front of Lord of all creation. And the most fitting day for this purpose is the day on which Allah will gather the created beings all together, which is the day of Jumu’ah.

Allah saved this day for this ummah due to its merits and virtue and so He legislated that the people should gather together on it for the purpose of obeying Him. Furthermore, He also decreed that it would be a Friday that they, as well as the other nations, will be gathered up to receive His grace [i.e. that the Day of Judgement will be on a Friday]. So it is a day of legislated gathering in the life of this world as well as the day of divinely-decreed gathering in the next life.

And by the midpoint of that Day in the hereafter – equivalent to the time of the khutbah and prayer during the worldly life – the people of Jannah will be in their final places and the people of the Hellfire will be in their final places. This is as has been authentically transmitted from ibn Mas’ood via multiple routes of transmission, who said, “It will not reach the midpoint of the day of the Day of Judgement before the people of Jannah take their mid-day nap in their ultimate dwelling places and the people of the Hellfire are in their final dwelling places” and then he recited:

أَصْحَابُ الْجَنَّةِ يَوْمَئِذٍ خَيْرٌ مُّسْتَقَرًّا وَأَحْسَنُ مَقِيلًا

The dwellers of Paradise will, on that Day, have the best abode, and have the fairest of resting-places [25:24]

and he also recited:

ثم إن مقيلهم لإلى الجحيم

Then their resting place shall be to the fire [compare to 37:68]

which was how the ayah was recited in his qiraa’ah.

ولهذا كون الأيام سبعة إنما تعرفه الأمم التي لها كتاب ، فأما أمة لا كتاب لها ، فلا تعرف ذلك إلا من تلقاه منهم عن أمم الأنبياء ، فإنه ليس هنا علامة حسية يعرف بها كون الأيام سبعة ، بخلاف الشهر والسنة وفصولها ، ولما خلق الله السماوات والأرض وما بينهما في ستة أيام ، [ ص: 408 ] وتعرف بذلك إلى عباده على ألسنة رسله وأنبيائه ، شرع لهم في الأسبوع يوما يذكرهم فيه بذلك ، وحكمة الخلق وما خلقوا له ، وبأجل العالم وطي السموات والأرض ، وعود الأمر كما بدأه سبحانه وعدا عليه حقا ، وقولا صدقا ، ـ

Following from this, it is only the nations that received scriptures from Allah that knew of the seven-day week while other peoples who did not receive any scriptures only learned of this through contact with the nations who had had prophets. That is because unlike the months, years, and different seasons there is no perceivable sign by which a seven-day week could be determined. But Allah created the heavens and the earth and all that is between them in six days and informed His slaves of that through the tongues of His messengers and prophets. He legislated one day of the week for them to be reminded of this, to be reminded to the reason for the creation and the purpose for which they were created, to be reminded of limited term of this universes, of how the heavens and the earth will be folded up, and how Allah will return everything to the way it initially was. This is a true promise from Allah.

ولهذا كان النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم يقرأ في فجر يوم الجمعة سورتي ( الم تنزيل ) و ( هل أتى على الإنسان ) لما اشتملت عليه هاتان السورتان مما كان ويكون من المبدأ والمعاد ، وحشر الخلائق وبعثهم من القبور إلى الجنة والنار ، لا لأجل السجدة كما يظنه من نقص علمه ومعرفته ، فيأتي بسجدة من سورة أخرى ، ويعتقد أن فجر يوم الجمعة فضل بسجدة ، وينكر على من لم يفعلها . ـ

Because of this, the Prophet used to recite surah al-Sajdah (32) and surah al-Insaan (76) for Fajr on Fridays. That was because of the contents of these two surahs, which include the origins of things and their ultimate return to Allah, the gathering up of all created beings, and their being raised from the graves to go to either Jannah or the Hellfire.

Unlike what some people think because of their lack of knowledge and understanding, these surahs were not selected because they contain a prostration, for their are other surahs that also have prostrations. Those people believed that the Fajr prayer on Fridays was exceptional because of the prostration and disapproved of anyone who did not do that.

وهكذا كانت قراءته صلى الله عليه وسلم في المجامع الكبار كالأعياد ونحوها بالسورة المشتملة على التوحيد ، والمبدأ والمعاد ، وقصص الأنبياء مع أممهم ، وما عامل الله به من كذبهم وكفر بهم من الهلاك والشقاء ، ومن آمن منهم وصدقهم من النجاة والعافية . ـ

Likewise, for other large congregational events like the ‘Eids for instance, the Prophet would also recite surahs whose contents include tawheed, the origins of mankind and their inevitable return to Allah, stories of the Prophets and their nations and how Allah dealt destruction and misery to those who belied and disbelieved in their prophets while granting salvation and safety to those who believed in them.

كما كان يقرأ في العيدين بسورتي ( ق والقرآن المجيد ) و ( اقتربت الساعة وانشق القمر ) ، وتارة : ب ( سبح اسم ربك الأعلى ) و ( هل أتاك حديث الغاشية ) وتارة يقرأ في الجمعة بسورة الجمعة لما تضمنت من [ ص: 409 ] الأمر بهذه الصلاة ، وإيجاب السعي إليها وترك العلم العائق عنها ، والأمر بإكثار ذكر الله ليحصل لهم الفلاح في الدارين ، فإن في نسيان ذكره تعالى العطب والهلاك في الدارين ، ويقرأ في الثانية بسورة ( إذا جاءك المنافقون ) تحذيرا للأمة من النفاق المردي ، وتحذيرا لهم أن تشغلهم أموالهم وأولادهم عن صلاة الجمعة ، وعن ذكر الله ، وأنهم إن فعلوا ذلك خسروا ولا بد ، وحضا لهم على الإنفاق الذي هو من أكبر أسباب سعادتهم ، وتحذيرا لهم من هجوم الموت وهم على حالة يطلبون الإقالة ، ويتمنون الرجعة ولا يجابون إليها ، وكذلك كان صلى الله عليه وسلم يفعل عند قدوم وفد يريد أن يسمعهم القرآن . ـ

For example, for the ‘Eids the Prophet used to recite surah Qaaf (51) and surah al-Qamar (54). And sometimes he would recite surah al-‘Aalaa (87) and surah al-Ghaashiyah (88).

Sometimes for Jumu’ah he would recite surah al-Jumu’ah (62) due to its contents which include the command to make this prayer and the requirement to hasten to it and abandon anything which stands in the way of it. And it also commands them to engage in much remembrance of Allah in order to achieve success in this life and the next, for forgetting to remember Allah leads to harm and destruction in both this life and the next.

And in the second raka’ah, he would recite surah al-Munaafiqoon (63), which serves as a warning to the ummah against hypocrisy, as well as a warning against letting one’s wealth and children preoccupy them and distract them away from the Jumu’ah prayer and the remembrance of Allah. For if they were to allow that to happen, they would certainly be in loss. And the surah also emphasizes charitable giving, which is one of the most significant factors leading to eternal happiness. It also warns them that death can come suddenly while they were not prepared for it, and so they would wish that they could return to the worldly life but their wish will not be granted.

And the Prophet also used to recite these kinds of surahs when a delegation would come to him wanting to listen to the Qur’an.

ويقرأ في الثانية بسورة ( إذا جاءك المنافقون ) تحذيرا للأمة من النفاق المردي ، وتحذيرا لهم أن تشغلهم أموالهم وأولادهم عن صلاة الجمعة ، وعن ذكر الله ، وأنهم إن فعلوا ذلك خسروا ولا بد ، وحضا لهم على الإنفاق الذي هو من أكبر أسباب سعادتهم ، وتحذيرا لهم من هجوم الموت وهم على حالة يطلبون الإقالة ، ويتمنون الرجعة ولا يجابون إليها ، وكذلك كان صلى الله عليه وسلم يفعل عند قدوم وفد يريد أن يسمعهم القرآن . ـ

وكان يطيل قراءة الصلاة الجهرية لذلك كما صلى المغرب ب ( الأعراف ) وب ( الطور ) و ( ق ) . وكان يصلي الفجر بنحو مائة آية . ـ

And He would also lengthen his recitation in the audible prayers to accomplish this reminder for the people. For example, he sometimes prayed the Maghrib prayer with surah al-A’raaf [07], surah al-Toor [52], or surah Qaaf [50]. And it was his regular practice to recite about 100 ayaat for the Fajr prayer.

وكذلك كانت خطبته صلى الله عليه وسلم ، إنما هي تقرير لأصول الإيمان من الإيمان بالله وملائكته وكتبه ورسله ولقائه ، وذكر الجنة والنار ، وما أعد الله لأوليائه وأهل طاعته ، وما أعد لأعدائه وأهل معصيته ، فيملأ القلوب من خطبته إيمانا وتوحيدا ، ومعرفة بالله وأيامه ، لا كخطب غيره التي إنما تفيد أمورا مشتركة بين الخلائق ، وهي النوح على الحياة ، والتخويف بالموت ، فإن هذا أمر لا يحصل في القلب إيمانا بالله ، ولا توحيدا له ، ولا معرفة خاصة به ، ولا تذكيرا بأيامه ، ولا بعثا للنفوس على محبته والشوق إلى لقائه ، فيخرج السامعون ولم يستفيدوا فائدة غير أنهم يموتون ، وتقسم أموالهم ، ويبلي التراب أجسامهم ، فيا ليت شعري أي إيمان حصل بهذا ؟ ! وأي توحيد ومعرفة وعلم نافع حصل به ؟ . ـ

This was also the case with the Prophet’s sermons, which were focused on the topics of affirming the foundations of the faith such as eemaan in Allah, His angels, His scriptures, His messengers and the ultimate meeting with Him, mentioning Jannah and the Hellfire and what Allah has prepared for His allies and those who obey Him on the one hand and what He has prepared for His enemies and those who disobey Him on the other. So his sermons would fill the hearts with eemaan, tawheed and understanding of Allah and His ways. They were not like the sermons of some others who only talk about the worldly affairs, lament the state of things at length and make people feel afraid of dying. These things do not bring about eemaan in Allah or singling Him out for worship or knowing Him or remind us of His ways or inspire love for Him or fear of meeting Him in our hearts. After all is said and done, those in attendance leave without having gotten anything out of it except for the fact that they will eventually pass away, their wealth will be doled out, and dirt will be thrown on their bodies. So what good is this? What eemaan does one get from this? What tawheed, what understanding, what beneficial knowledge comes from this type of sermon?

ومن تأمل خطب النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم وخطب أصحابه ، وجدها كفيلة ببيان الهدى والتوحيد ، وذكر صفات الرب جل جلاله ، وأصول الإيمان الكلية ، والدعوة إلى الله ، وذكر آلائه تعالى التي تحببه إلى خلقه ، وأيامه التي تخوفهم من بأسه ، والأمر بذكره وشكره الذي يحببهم إليه ، فيذكرون من عظمة الله وصفاته وأسمائه ما يحببه إلى خلقه ، ويأمرون من طاعته وشكره ، وذكره ما يحببهم إليه ، فينصرف السامعون وقد أحبوه وأحبهم  ـ

Whoever reflects on the sermons of the Prophet and those of his companions will find them to be extraordinary in their clarification of guidance and al-tawheed, in describing Allah and the major fundamentals of eemaan, calling to Allah, mentioning His blessings which endear Him to His creations, as well as mentioning His dealings with the previous nations which inspires fear of His punishment. These sermons also enjoin remembering Him and gratitude towards Him – both of which endear us to Him. So they would discuss the greatness of Allah and His names and attributes, which endears Him to His creations, and command us to be obedient and grateful to Him and mention what endears us to Him. So by the time those in attendance had departed from the prayer they would love Allah and He would love them.

[Zaad al-Ma’aad 1/407-409]

See also: The Wisdom in Reciting Surah al-‘Aalaa and al-Ghaashiyah in the Friday Prayer: Sheikh al-Fawzan

See also: The Themes of Surah Qaaf and When to Recite it: Tafsir ibn Kathir

See also: Overview of Surah al-Insaan: Ibn Taymiyah

4 thoughts on “Surahs Recited on Friday and Their Themes: Ibn al-Qayyim

  1. Pingback: The Wisdom in Reciting Surah al-‘Aalaa and al-Ghaashiyah in the Friday Prayer: Sheikh al-Fawzan | Tulayhah

  2. Pingback: The Themes of Surah Qaaf and When to Recite it: Tafsir ibn Kathir | Tulayhah

  3. Pingback: Overview of Surah al-Insaan: Ibn Taymiyah | Tulayhah

  4. Pingback: Reciting Surah al-Sajdah and Surah al-Insan on Fridays: ibn Taymiyah | Tulayhah

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